Of course the goal should be being happy with what you do but sometimes the situation is such that making major changes to your routine are extremely difficult if not impossible. Let’s take the hypothetical case of Jane, a single mom working two jobs just to make ends meetand take care of her and her children’s basic needs. Let’s also say that due to the lack of educational opportunities in her life, that the two jobs she has are both physically demanding manual labor jobs. She simply doesn’t have the time or energy to seek better working conditions by furthering her education. By the time she comes home from work, she still has to do the laundry, pay the bills, the babysitter, etc… The kids are young and go to bed shortly after she comes home and while she starts that day’s load of laundry she feels more than justified and in need of a “relaxer” or multiple one’s for that matter, in order to get over her fatigue, stress and frustration of her never ending loop of work, work, work. Who really can blame her? Her eating habits due to the fatigue and drinking have also deteriorated and her all around health is not what it should be. What can she do to find some solace and satisfaction in her daily life and turn it all around?
Her first job is as an assembly-line production worker in a garment factory. She has been there for 15 years and is well regarded and appreciated for her diligence, attention to detail and exemplary attendance record. When she was younger she had lots of friends there and would spend time with them at lunch and after work she would sometimes go out with a few of them shopping or for coffee and what have you. Over the years, however, many of them left due to retirement, better opportunities, to raise families, etc…and because she had become so burnt out from her daily grind, she didn’t really seek to replace them with the new people who came along. She got to the point where she would just show up, not feeling all that happy or sociable (her evening relaxers didn’t help!) and just “do her time” without really engaging with anybody. The work itself had become so routine and boring that she hated it.
What kind of advice can we offer Jane? She is admittedly in a tough situation but there are things she could do to make it bearable and maybe even satisfying again.
1-Obviously the first thing on the list would be
to make the decision to stop self-medicating in order to make positive changes.
Doing this along with improving her diet would naturally improve the quality of
her sleep and increase her energy levels with which to face the day.
2-She should rededicate herself to joining the social fabric of the workforce by again starting to take an interest in her co-workers and forming new friendships. Isolating at work can have a devastating effect on your well-being. I was guilty of doing just that a several of my past jobs. I assumed nobody like me and would just keep to myself and be miserable. The fact was that they thought I didn’t like them because of
my solitary ways. If you develop good listening skills and truly care about and ask about the lives or your fellow workers, they will almost certainly respond in favorable ways and take an interest in you.
3-Make a game of it and realize that it’s a means to an end. When I was about 13, I spent the summer working for my dad in the most ridiculously boring job imaginable. He imported headphones and microphones from Germany so they had to be tested when they arrived in NY to make sure they were up to speck both physically and functionally. I worked on the “quality assurance” assembly line. My job was to simply take the box of headphones, flip the cover underneath the box, take the unit out and uncoil the cord and pass it on to the “tester” who would in turn pass it on to the re-packer. EXCITING stuff, let me tell you. A couple of thousand boxes a day with no variation other than the fact that they had several models. So what I would do is unpack my end of the deal so fast that I would accumulate stacks of like 5 high running the
whole length of the table that I simply had to push along as the tester needed them. This gave me time to take short breaks where I could read the paper, catch a smoke or whatever. It was stupid but it was a little challenge and gave me something strive for as lame as it was. Obviously being only 13, it was just a job for spending money so it wasn’t life or death but you get the idea.
4-Even though it seems impossible, have a goal to somehow find a way out to something more rewarding both mentally and financially.
Jane’s old friend Esther, who was in an almost exactly similar situation, took an on-line medical billing course which enabled her to secure a much better paying job in good conditions and even afford her the ability to leave her 2nd job cleaning offices in the evening. She now has more time to spend with her children which is what she had been craving for so long. Most of the stress, boredom and frustration that she was experiencing disappeared. She is happy and feels fulfilled again.
If Jane puts down the bottle, she can achieve similar life altering and affirming results!
So never lose hope and create your own positive reality. Easy? No, no, no. Possible? Anything
is possible if you believe in yourself, work hard and dare to dream and make those dreams turn into reality!
Now if Jane and Esther can do it in dire circumstances, then the bored and frustrated housewife or recent retiree can find rewarding and fulfilling things to do with their days. Volunteer in a cause you care about, get involved with your kids’activities (coach, assistant teach, brownie leader, etc….). Rekindle an interest in old hobbies or start new ones. Join a team or a club; join a gym or just exercise by walking or jogging. The key is to be active and preferably with other people in some fun, rewarding and authentic capacity.
Life truly is, ……..what YOU make it.